About Anne Heaton
Singer-songwriter and pianist Anne Heaton has captured audience imaginations for over fifteen years with her songs that are, by turns, "tender, barbed and spiritual" (Washington Post). She's been featured by the New York Times Popcast, played numerous times on NPR and shared the stage with artists such as Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and jazz drummer Max Roach. The New York Times music podcast called her music "absolutely gorgeous" and with "To the Light," her seventh studio album, due out this November, Heaton is surrendering to her love of collaboration more than ever before.
"Pema Chodron refers to a Hopi Prophecy that says we no longer live in the time of the lone wolf," Heaton explains, "and instead advises that we look and see who is around us. To me, this means that it's more important than ever to create and live collaboratively. On this record, I wanted to stay connected to my music community across the country even though I was rooted to a place as the primary caregiver to my two daughters, now 8 and 6-years old. As each song was written, I thought of a musician-friend who might help me bring it fully to life. Then I reached out to that person. In this way, I was able to co-produce these songs with some amazingly talented friends including Alex Wong (Vienna Teng, Delta Rae), Mona Tavakoli (Jason Mraz, Raining Jane), Liam Davis (Justin Roberts, Frisbie) and Greg "Stryke" Chin who created my first ever electronic track!"
Other songwriters who contributed to the album include Natalia Zukerman, Shannon McNally, Beth Wood, Mai Bloomfield, Steve Dawson, Chaska Potter, Duke Levine, Frank Marotta, Jr., Meg Hutchinson, Jennifer Kimball, Erin Zindle and Laura Donohue. Even Heaton's own daughters contributed by coming up with the initial ideas for the "Celebration Song" and the "Donut Song!"
"You never know what'll show up when you sit down to write songs or what exactly the sound will be when you head into the studio to record, but what I believe has come through sonically on this record is music that's rooted, danceable and more 'in the body,' while lyrically what has emerged is an invitation for us to connect to our essential joy and sense of celebration even when we are going through challenges, personally, in our communities or globally."
Just as a lotus grows in the mud, some of our most incredible moments are born of a hardship. The songs in this collection invite the listener to find the light in the dark but without racing through difficult moments, finding a way out or around but rather to "let yourself be." "When I think how lost I felt en route to this perfect moment. All that had to go right and wrong for me to come here and own it" opens Heaton's spoken-word section of the pop-rock "Celebration Song," while in hymn-like "Hope" she sings over simple piano and violin "I carry hope in my heart even when I don't feel hope." In "Joy" she sings "I let my fears rise up out of me, like smoke floating over the sea, I find the joy in my heart early, open my eyes to the birds, the trees."
From the electronic rhythm of "Joy, " the Annie Lennox-esque driving quality of "Rise," to the layered, soulful, reflective shades of "Hannah" and "To the Light," these songs offer comfort while exploring a wide breadth of emotion and ways of seeing from celebration to utter silliness to working through grief to risking connecting to our joy no matter the circumstances.
The album also includes a storybook. In addition to the music, Heaton has crafted a book of stories, one to go with each song. Every song will have a tale of how it came to exist along with the creativity keys that inspired its completion.
"I'm really looking forward to sharing this music and to talking to people during a time when there's a lot of disconnection and/or limited connections over social media. There's been a disallowing of the healthy expression of emotions and I seek another way. I want to nurture the change makers, the empaths, those who are leading and lighting our way. I see these songs as a companion to those on the transition team (which is all of us), an oxygen mask for us while big changes unfold on the planet, old systems fall apart and we co-create new ones."
I’m going back to what I can’t remember, I want to rise…
To the steps of the mountain lion outrunning your machine
You can bring your chainsaw, but you can’t cut what you can’t see
Dragonflies hum out past the metal and steel
I sit by the water ‘til the water reveals
That the lone wolf is no longer, I know the rhythm’s getting fast
I know the middle of the river is the only way we can pass
Why don’t we go there? (From “Rise")